Sometimes a seemingly insignificant moment can be the catalyst for incredible things.
I played soccer growing up and after a series of injuries and ‘early retirement’ I realized that what I loved most about soccer was actually my team. So when I was asked to be a part of the women’s rowing team for the VII International Regatta back in 2013, I jumped at the chance to learn something new and be a part of a team again.
Little did I know what I was in for.
Throughout the training season there’s all kinds of joy, celebration, frustration, exhaustion, adversity, and glory. It’s the adversity that binds us. Without it, we don’t change. We don’t get better. We don’t learn to move forward. And we would be hard pressed to recognize how much love and respect we’ve developed for one another.
I read once that adults make new friends best through enduring a physical activity together. Something about collectively defying the perception of age. And adding to that, all the life experiences we’ve already had. Learning or re-learning how to have fun, how to feel happy, how to stay ‘young’, or maybe moreso, relevant.
What I have learned from being a part of the Azorean Whaleboats is that they approach it differently in the Azores, but not without similar outcomes.
They bring the youth. Their teams compete every weekend during the season. They are young, and they are very competitive. And they usually win. But not without a fight 😉
Our teams tend to bring up the average age by about 2 decades. This last regatta brought together teams from Faial, Pico, and NB with ages spanning from 21-71. The best part about it is that when on the water, it doesn’t matter. We are all in the same boat (so to speak). And we are all competitive.
Off the water, we are one team.
It’s hard to explain the impact this sort of experience has on us. The friendships that it forges are literally for life. This experience is so unique, so rare, so freakin precious, that it’s ok to not get any sleep for an entire week.
Which, inevitably, is what happens. Here’s how it shook down:
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, we received our first group from Pico. After a pizza party welcome, and after they traveled for almost 24 hours, they still wanted to go to Karaoke. So of course, we took them to Pour Farm and we all rang in the XII International Regatta by singing our hearts away until 2am, which is when the group from Faial finally got to NB.
My recovery score the next day, according to my Whoop… 1%
Thursday was a ‘relaxed’ day at my house. The teams needed some practice on our boats before the regatta, so we hosted a cookout for about 75 people throughout the day. From my house on Clark’s Cove, those who weren’t practicing sailing, were able to watch those who were.
The evening wrapped up with the first skippers meeting in my backyard. By the time everyone left and the house was put back together, I was able to get to bed at a reasonable hour and I slept like a log.
My recovery score… 52%
Friday was the first day of racing. It began with 3 races back to back for women’s rowing, and then 3 races for men’s rowing. I was an alternate for the women’s team, but ultimately was needed to row all 3 races.
The races were followed by dinner and dancing where people from the community could come and meet the crews from the Azores.
My recovery score… 30%
Saturday was the sailing races. Three women’s races back to back in the morning (I sailed all 3), and three back to back for the men in the afternoon (I was on a support boat)
From the races, we took everyone straight to the Madeira Field for the Food Truck Festa, which ended at 7pm, so we then took everyone to a pool party.
My recovery score… 19%
Sunday was the final day of the regatta and we wrapped it up with a community rowing tournament. We mixed all the crews so that there were rowers from Pico, Faial, and the US all in one boat. Thanks to the participation of the community who were not officially on a regatta team, we filled 9 boats, had 3 races, and a final race with all the winners. It was incredible.
Sunday night was the award night, dinner and dancing (of course). By the time the events wrapped up, it was 4am.
My recovery score… 1%
Monday started a little later with a tour of the Whaling Museum and a luncheon with Mayor Mitchell, State Representative Tony Cabral, the mayors of Horta and Lajes, and representation from City Council.
With a little down time in the afternoon, we took them to Acushnet Creamery and then Black Whale for an espresso. I was able to steal away a few of my dear friends from Faial and show them the studio. After 10 years of friendship, it was really awesome to show them my other home 🙂
It was the final night and the entire event came to close with a farewell dinner (and dancing) at Inner Bay. Everyone’s heart was full.
My recovery score… 1%
On Tuesday we rounded up our friends from Pico first, said our goodbyes, and sent them off to Boston. I was able to take a nap before rounding up the Faial teams and getting them off to Boston also.
From there I was on house check. Making sure the Whalehouse and Poseidon’s Palace were locked up properly, and then cleaning up the two houses that were donated by my family. My mother was a total lifesaver and helped me tremendously throughout the week and with all the laundry at the end.
I was able to take another nap while I waited for my daughter at school pickup. Once we got home I really struggled to keep my eyes open. I had dinner with my family and then we pow-wowed on the couch to watch a movie. I did not last. I gave in and slept like a champ.
My recovery score… 96%
There are events and there are people that are so worth going off script for. Controlling what we can, when we can, and being truly selective about the times we veer off is what’s important.
My bedtime was completely sabotaged, but not my nutrition. Don’t get me wrong… it was not at all ideal, but I didn’t throw in the towel just because it was a party. I made sure to stay hydrated, I ate lots of salads, kept the starches at a minimum, included protein with every meal, and opted for wine instead of dessert. Especially since there was no time to sleep, I had to be gentle on my digestive system.
De tudo um pouco. If we are generally on our game, and we don’t make silly excuses for making silly choices, we can bounce back.